Beans are a wonderful way to add high-quality, plant-based protein to your diet. They’re super versatile and high in iron, B vitamins, and fiber.
Dry beans stay fresh longer when stored in a cool, dark place (rather than on your countertop). Don’t use beans that are more than a year old since their nutrient content and digestibility are much lower after this amount of time. Also, old beans will not soften, even with thorough cooking.
Follow these steps when preparing beans:
- Rinse beans and check beans for rocks and shriveled or broken pieces.
- Cover in water and soak* for six hours or overnight. Small and medium-size beans may require less soaking ( – about four hours should be enough). *Note: If you’ve forgotten to presoak the beans, you can bring them to a boil, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let soak for one hour.
- Drain and rinse the beans, discarding the soaking water. Always discard any loose skins before cooking, since this will increase digestibility.
- Place the beans in a heavy pot and add 3 to 4 cups fresh water.
- Bring to a full boil and skim off the foam. Cover, lower the temperature, and simmer. Check beans after 30 minutes.
- Beans are done when the beans are tender and the middle is soft and easy to squeeze. About 10 minutes before the end of cooking time, add 1 teaspoon of unrefined sea salt.
1 cup dry beans Cooking time:
- Adzuki 45-60 minutes
- Anasazi 60-90 minutes
- Black (turtle) 60-90 minutes
- Black-eyed peas 60 minutes
- Cannellini 90-120 minutes
- Chickpeas (garbanzos) 120-180 minutes
- Cranberry 60-90 minutes
- Fava 60-90 minutes
- Great northern 90-120 minutes
- Kidney 60-90 minutes
- Lentils* 30-45 minutes
- Lima beans 60-90 minutes
- Mung 60 minutes
- Navy 60-90 minutes
- Pinto 90 minutes
- Split peas 45-60 minutes
*Do not require soaking . All times are approximate.
Cooking lengths depend on how strong the heat is and how hard the water is. A general rule is that small beans require approximately 30 minutes cooking time, medium beans around 60 minutes, and large beans around 90 minutes. Be sure to taste the beans to see if they’re fully cooked and tender before straining.
Some people have difficulty digesting beans and legumes, they may get:
- Intestinal problems
- Foggy thinking
Few techniques for preparing and eating legumes that will alleviate most problems:
- Soak beans for several days, changing the water twice daily, until a small tail forms on the beans.
- Use a pressure cooker. This also cuts down on cooking time.
- Chew beans thoroughly and remember that even small amounts have high nutritional and healing properties.
- Avoid giving legumes to children under 18 months since they haven’t yet developed the gastric enzymes to digest them properly.
- Experiment with your ability to digest beans. Smaller beans like adzuki, lentils, mung beans, and peas digest most easily. Pinto, kidney, navy, black-eyed peas, garbanzo, lima, and black beans are harder to digest. Yellow soy beans and black soybeans are the most difficult beans to digest.
- Experiment with different combinations, ingredients, and seasonings. Legumes typically combine best with green or non-starchy vegetables and seaweeds.
- Season with unrefined sea salt, miso, or soy sauce near the end of cooking. If salt is added at the beginning, the beans will not cook completely. Salt acts as a digestive aid when added at the end.
- Adding fennel or cumin near the end of cooking helps prevent gas.
- Adding kombu or kelp seaweed at the beginning of the cooking process improves flavor and digestion, adds minerals and nutrients, and speeds up the cooking process.
- Pour about 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, brown rice vinegar, or white wine vinegar into the water during the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. This softens the beans and breaks down protein chains and indigestible compounds.
- Take enzymes with your meal.